Blended Learning, Devices, Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching

Increasing Student Responsibility with Google Classroom

google_classroom_logoI teach middle school. That means that I teach students a lot of content, but I also teach students about what it means to be human. Part of teaching students to be human is about teaching them to be responsible.

At San Jose Christian, we have a 1:1 laptop program in our middle school, where students all have their own MacBooks.  We use Google Classroom to offer students tools, resources, and a management hub for classroom work.

However, Google Classroom is not just for middle school. It’s great for students to use to turn in work at almost any level. They have a great app for iOS and Android as well, which makes it easy for students to use on any device or even across the multiple devices they have.

Tracking Assignments with the Work Page

Embedded into each student’s Google Classroom is a list of work that he or she needs to complete. This list is given chronologically, starting with past-due work, continuing to what’s due today, tomorrow, and every day after.

Students simply click on the “three hot dogs” (as I fondly call them in my classroom) or stacked dashes menu icon in the upper-left hand corner of the screen and select “Work.” There they can see a personalized list of work that is due.


Parents and teachers can help students increase their level of responsibility by starting them on this work page every night to analyze the work that needs to be done. In my last period every day, I have students open up this list and do two things:

  1. Make sure all completed assignments are “Marked As Done” and therefore off of their list.
  2. Look at their list for what’s due tomorrow and any large projects and tests coming up in the near future.

Empowering Students to Be Organized

Every assignment a teacher creates is automatically added to a calendar in the student’s G Suite (formerly Google Apps). This allows students to view a calendar right within Google Classroom by clicking on the “three hot dogs” and selecting “Calendar.”


Similarly, a calendar for each class in Google Classroom shows up in a student’s Google Calendar. This allows students to scroll through the weeks ahead to see upcoming assignments. Students can also share these calendars with other people, like parents, who may also want to be  aware of the assignments coming due. Teachers can assist students to become more responsible by looking ahead to projects and tests, and help them build plans to prepare for completion and testing success.

Google Classroom automatically creates an organized folder structure for every student. It creates a folder in each student’s drive called “Classroom.” And, for each class in which the student is enrolled, Google Classroom creates a separate folder with that course’s name. The teacher names assignments and places it in a particular class folder. This helps students stay organized and turn assignments in on time. They’re also able to move the documents they’ve created outside of Google Classroom into this classroom folder. Additionally, if the student creates a document within the Google Classroom assignment, it creates a file name for the document similar to that of the assignment to help keep track of correlating work.

Adopting Google Classroom as a middle school staff has been an integral part of our transition to implementing technology in the classroom. (If your school hasn’t adopted Google Classroom yet, be sure to check out this webinar.) Google Classroom allows us to distribute class resources and collect work from students, and in the process, we teach students to be responsible for their own work.

Use Guardian Summaries to Start the Conversation

This fall, the Google Classroom team introduced a new feature: Guardian Summaries. By pairing a guardian’s email address with his/her student, the guardian will receive daily or weekly updates of assignments posted or graded. However, guardians are still not able to open the student’s work without his or her login. On the one hand, this can seem like an annoying step. However, I appreciate how this forces parents to ask students questions about their work. This makes students responsible by requiring them to have knowledge of assignments. It also ensures that the student, rather than the parent, is logging in and looking at things in more depth. This gives guardians the power to ask informed questions while still requiring that the student be responsible for his or her work.


rachel-headshotGuest blogger bio: Rachel Medeiros teaches middle school language arts and math at San Jose Christian School. In addition, she’s an independent education technology consultant, where she focuses on how technology amplifies student voices. She’s a Google certified trainer and certified innovator. In her time away from technology she enjoys drinking specialty coffee and reading teen fiction. You can find her on Twitter @racheldiep or via email at







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